Hancock Middle-Senior High School losing assistant principal position

April 18, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |

HANCOCK — The sole assistant principal position at Hancock Middle-Senior High School will be eliminated this summer, and the school will get an administrative intern for the next school year, the Washington County Public Schools superintendent said this week.

A guidance counselor position also will be added so the middle-high school and the elementary school have a counselor, Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said Tuesday after a Washington County Board of Education meeting.

Currently, the two schools share a guidance counselor.

The school board voted 6-1 to approve personnel moves that included transferring Larry J. Smith, the assistant principal at Hancock Middle-Senior High, to Smithsburg High School, where he will be a social studies teacher during the next school year.

Board member Donna Brightman said Wednesday that she voted against the personnel moves because of the elimination of the Hancock assistant principal position.

“I think Hancock is a very unique, isolated community that needs additional help,” Brightman said.

Although Brightman said she understood the resource distribution and cost-cutting the school system needs to undertake, some areas in the county concern her.

But adding the guidance counselor and administrative intern is a step in the right direction, Brightman said.

Wilcox said Wednesday that eliminating the assistant principal position at Hancock was not a cost-cutting move.

Both Brightman and Wilcox said that Smith was very helpful to the  students.

“He’s been there for years. He knows the families. He goes to court when it’s necessary. He’s a strong advocate for children,” Brightman said.

Wilcox said he understood Smith’s value, but couldn’t support an assistant principal position at a school with such a small student population. Having two guidance counselors in the Hancock community will help with advocacy issues, he said.

In addition, Hancock Middle-Senior doesn’t have enough disciplinary problems or other issues that would require two full-time administrators, Wilcox said.

While the school is a combined middle and high school, the Hancock school’s 304 students is the second smallest student population among the county’s public high schools, according to fall 2011 enrollment data.

Barbara Ingram School for the Arts has about 220 students now, but is projected to have 275 students for the next school year, Ingram Principal Michael Thorsen said.

The arts school in downtown Hagerstown has not had an assistant principal since it opened in 2009, Thorsen said. This school year was the first time the arts school had an administrative intern, he said.

Wilcox said Wednesday that the administrative intern position at Ingram will be transferred to Hancock Middle-Senior for the next school year because Ingram didn’t meet growth projections.

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